Food forms an integral part of our lives – our association with it begins from the moment we are born and continues till we die. Food defines our connection to our community, and it unites people in a way nothing else can. From comfort food to fast food, from slow-cooked meals to quick-fix meals, food is considered to be an essential ingredient in the recipe we call life.

Here, we look at some of the Indian food memoirs by people whose lives have been deeply impacted by food, and how it changed the course of their lives. These narratives travel across the country and even the world, right from the biryanis found in Delhi to Appa’s vegetable cutlets. And as we turn the pages, we encounter stories of food and how it changed the lives of the people consuming it.

01

Climbing The Mango Trees: A Memoir Of A Childhood In India

Madhur Jaffrey

Madhur Jaffrey, a world-renowned food and travel writer, grew up in a large house in Delhi with an equally large family. A huge clan meant a surplus of dishes, but Jaffrey’s life was not limited to just the mouth-watering home-cooked meals. Her memories of food also included the delectable mangoes from her grandfather’s orchards, picnicking on meatballs, and tasting the lunch her Muslim friends would carry in their tiffin boxes. Jaffrey draws on these memories to bring us a memoir that talks about her multi-layered family, and their trials and tribulations during Partition. Not only that, her memoir also includes 30 delightful recipes, making for a truly delicious ending.

Buy it here.

02

Love, Loss, And What We Ate: A Memoir

Padma Lakshmi

From hosting Top Chef to gaining worldwide popularity as a TV artist, Padma Lakshmi has lived an extraordinary life. Food has been an essential part of her journey, along with the people that helped shape her life, right from her headstrong mother to her sweet-toothed grandfather. Lakshmi believed that the way we eat is the way we love and find a sense of home. Due to this, her memoir, Love, Loss, And What We Ate, shows us a Lakshmi whose favourite food still remains the morsels of rice she ate while sitting on her grandmother’s floor in India. Evocative and filled with recipes, this is a memoir everyone should read.

Buy it here.

03

The Sood Family Cookbook

Aparna Jain

When her brother’s friends in Switzerland started asking for Indian meals, Aparna Jain decided to begin collecting recipes for them from her relatives spread across the world, right from Perth to Toronto. What started as a three-ring binder soon expanded into The Sood Family Cookbook. As the members of the far-flung family married people from different communities, the family grew in size and diversity, and so did the food. Jain draws on memories and anecdotes from her large family and adds in recipes from Pahaadi, Bengali, Thai, Italian, Punjabi, Sindhi and Swiss cuisines, thus making her memoir a labour of love.

Buy it here.

04

Crumbs!: Bread Stories And Recipes For The Indian Kitchen

Saee Koranne-Khandekar

Who doesn’t love the scent of freshly baked bread, whether in the form of a warm bun or a soft and fragrant naan? But how many of us have dared to actually attempt to bake some bread on our own? In this book, Saee Koranne-Khandekar collates bread recipes from across India and around the world. She also describes her own journey of baking, her visits to India’s oldest bakeries and their secrets of baking. This food memoir is perfect for those who want to understand the ups and downs of baking bread.

Buy it here.

05

Mrs. LC’s Table: Stories About Kayasth Food And Culture 

Anoothi Vijay

The Kayasth community in India has heavily influenced our taste buds with their ways of cooking and their gastronomical feasts for centuries. Anoothi Vishal invokes her grandmother’s memories and recipes and takes us on a tour of Kayasth culture and food, and the feasts that were a result of her grandmother’s cooking. The book also includes 20 stunning recipes that display the diverse options available within Kayasth cuisine, and is bound to leave you salivating for more.

Buy it here.

06

Tiffin: Memories And Recipes Of Indian Vegetarian Food

Rukmini Srinivas

Rukmini Srinivas managed to taste everything in her travels around India and the world –from Chitappa’s masala vadai to Appa’s vegetable cutlets, and from bondas on Marina Beach to Mysore pak. Now, as a chef on a television show, Srinivas whips up delectable variations to traditional dishes. Tiffin serves as her medium to show us the memories of her life that led to her culinary journey. She recounts her foodie experiences during the British rule and after Independence, as well as her memories of cooking for R.K. Narayan. Narrating tales of a world caught between the traditional and the modern, this honest and sweet memoir shows us how food helps make memories that can last a lifetime.

Buy it here.

07

Jasmine And Jinns: Memories And Recipes Of My Delhi

Sadia Dehlvi

Growing up in Delhi, Sadia Dehlvi learned the importance of cooking at a young age. More importantly, she learned about the culture of Delhi and the way food was entwined within the culture of the city. In Jasmine And Jinns, Dehlvi takes us on a tour of her city, showing us the best places serving drool-worthy food like jalebis, dalbiji, aloo poori, dahi bhalla, etc. Her book also ties in the origin stories of popular dishes like biryani, qorma, kofta, shammi kebab and kheer, making it a necessary purchase for foodies all around the world.        

Buy it here.

Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she's not sleeping or eating, you'll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it's best not to approach her before she's had her coffee.

She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here